Nelson South Kindergarten - 10/03/2010

1. The Education Review Office (ERO) Evaluation

Nelson South Kindergarten operates under the constitution and philosophy of Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association. A governing board is responsible for setting the overall strategic and policy direction. The organisation is managed by the chief executive officer (CEO) and a team comprising three senior advisory teachers (SATs) and an operations manager (OM). The CEO is licensee and responsible for compliance, property and resourcing. The OM assists teachers with employment, human resources and marketing. The SATs provide professional advice and guidance to teachers and support them in the development and implementation of learning programmes for children.

The November 2006 ERO report noted the high standard of core activities provided. The learning environment was welcoming and inclusive and the kindergarten had developed a real sense of community. Teachers were friendly and had a warm rapport with children and their families. Support for literacy was a strength of the programme which was structured around children’s emerging ideas and interests. Recommendations were identified in relation to strengthening assessment practices.

Since the previous ERO review, there have been significant changes to the service. All permanent teachers are new with only the head teacher remaining from that time. Teaching staff numbers have increased from three to six. A range of professional development has been undertaken to support teaching and learning. A sense of unity and collaboration has developed amongst members of this relatively new team. Together, teachers effectively manage day-to-day operations and the development of the programme.

An inclusive culture continues to be a strong feature of this kindergarten. High value is placed on developing and maintaining relationships with families. Everyone is acknowledged and made to feel welcome. Teachers are warm, respectful, and responsive. They emphasise the importance of children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

Teachers demonstrate a strong commitment to implementing a bicultural programme and this is clearly reflected daily in the environment and aspects of teaching.

The programme evolves from children’s interests as they explore their surroundings. A wide range of experiences effectively support children’s early literacy and mathematical learning. The focus on sustainability and gardening is providing high quality opportunities for learning. Information and communication technologies (ICT) successfully enhance some aspects of teaching and learning. Sound processes are in place to assist children and their families in making the transition to primary school. Children have easily accessed materials and equipment to support a wide range of play.

ERO, kindergarten management and teachers have agreed on areas of practice to improve. These developments include to review the organisation of some aspects of the environment and to further refine approaches to transition to school and to assessment, planning, evaluation and self review.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interests of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

2. Review Priorities

The Focus of the Review

Before the review, the management of Nelson South Kindergartenwas invited to consider its priorities for review using guidelines and resources provided by ERO. ERO also used documentation provided by the centre to contribute to the scope of the review.

The detailed priorities for review were then determined following a discussion between the ERO review team and the management and staff. This discussion focused on existing information held by the centre (including self-review information) and the extent to which potential issues for review contributed to positive outcomes for children at Nelson South Kindergarten.

All ERO education reviews in early childhood focus on the quality of education. For ERO this includes the quality of:

  • the programme provided for children;
  • the learning environment; and
  • the interactions between children and adults.

In addition, ERO decided to review:

  • the quality of governance and management.

ERO’s findings in these areas are set out below.

The Quality of Education

Background

The previous report noted the high standard of core activities provided. Teachers were friendly and had a warm rapport with children and their families. The learning environment was welcoming and inclusive. Support for literacy was a strength of the programme which was structured around children’s’ emerging ideas and interests. The kindergarten had developed a real sense of community evidenced by the numbers of parents staying for sessions. Recommendations were identified in relation to strengthening assessment practices.

Since 2006, there have been significant changes to the service. Twenty free hours of early childhood education was implemented in 2007. All permanent teachers are new to the kindergarten, with only the head teacher remaining from that time. An administrator role has been created. Teaching staff have increased from three to six, improving the adult-to-child ratio to at least one to ten. A family liaison group replaces the former parent committee, taking a social rather than a fundraising role. Staff have undertaken a range of professional development to support their teaching.

Property developments since the previous review give children and staff improved facilities. Future property plans include the possible modification of the entrance and deck areas.

To carry out this evaluation ERO observed the programme in action over the course of a day, met with teachers and parents and reviewed relevant documentation.

Areas of good performance

  • The kindergarten is well resourced and children easily access materials and equipment to support a wide range of play. Since the previous report, parts of the indoor and outdoor areas have been significantly redeveloped to improve the quality of the environment for adults and children. Children enjoy exploring this environment and take an active role in its care.
  • Teachers are warm, respectful and responsive. They emphasise the importance of children’s social and emotional well-being. Staff endeavour to affirm and acknowledge children’s presence, efforts, achievements and contributions. Teachers’ genuine interest is reflected in their conversations and involvement with the children. Strong links with homes strengthen their engagement. Good strategies are used to guide and promote their problem-solving skills.
  • The approach of teachers to programme development is highly reflective of the principles of Te Whāriki and the ideas expressed in the kindergarten’s vision statement. The programme evolves from children’s interests as they explore their surroundings. For much of the time, they choose the level and timing of their participation. Working with, and alongside, peers is encouraged. Individual profile books, planning stories and “what’s happening” books make visible aspects of their participation, interests and learning. Excursions are often planned to strengthen current areas of interest. Some evaluations consider the impact of the programme on children’s learning and, at times, identify next learning steps.
  • A wide range of experiences effectively support children’s early literacy and mathematical learning. High levels of dialogue are maintained to foster language skills. There is a wide range of resources, models and tools for children to explore. Books and stories are shared throughout sessions. Teachers include reference to mathematical ideas in their interactions and promote opportunities for children to recognise and write symbols. Children enjoy this approach that promotes their learning through play.
  • The focus on sustainability and gardening is providing high quality opportunities for learning. Children gain knowledge and skills in caring for the environment through practical experience. The garden is a high interest area providing a continuing source of investigatory and literacy opportunities and a base for strengthening links with the community.
  • ICT are successfully used to enhance some aspects of teaching and learning. Tools such as cameras and the computer are freely accessed by children. Teachers continue to develop their own skills in this area, experimenting with the technologies to improve programme outcomes.
  • An inclusive culture, where everyone is acknowledged and made to feel welcome, is a feature of the kindergarten. High value is place on developing and maintaining relationships with families. Their feedback and input is sought and valued. Access to a translator has enhanced communication with families who have English as a second language. Teachers maximise opportunities for informal discussion with parents before and after sessions. A strong sense of community exists where everyone is working in the best interest of children.
  • Sound processes assist children and their families in making the transition to primary school. Reciprocal visits occur with several local new entrant classes. Consideration is given to ensuring reconnections are made with past friends. Teachers make time to discuss changes and expectations with parents and children.
  • Teachers demonstrate a strong commitment to implementing a bicultural programme and this is clearly reflected in the environment and aspects of the daily programme. A well-considered approach has been taken to strengthening their capability in, and use of, te reo Māori with children. Children are learning about the dual heritage of New Zealand/Aotearoa.
  • Self review is effectively used to improve outcomes for children. Sound frameworks guide the recording, implementation and reflections for both planned and spontaneous review. These include identification of quality indicators and collection and analysis of a range of data to inform decision making. Self review and evaluation of annual plans are appropriately linked to the development of strategic goals.
  • Together, teachers effectively manage day-to-day operations and the development of the programme. A sense of unity and collaboration has developed amongst members of this relatively new team. They have complementary skills and share similar values and good humour. Daily meetings are well used to share ideas and discuss issues.

Areas for improvement

  • Aspects of the environment could be better organised to promote investigation and learning. There is limited space for indoor art activities. Some photographic displays relating to current centres of interest are arranged at adult rather children’s eye level. The arrangement of activities in high-traffic areas may make it difficult for children to engage without interruption. Some displays are not well developed to attract children’s interest or to encourage them to independently access materials and participate in tidying away. Through maximising opportunities for investigation and communication, programme outcomes for children are likely to be strengthened.
  • Teachers can articulate assessment-for-learning principles, but their recorded practice has yet to consistently reflect this understanding. The daily planning and evaluation book records some rich information about daily sessions. However, the prompts developed to structure discussion around individual children’s current needs, interests and next learning steps are seldom used. Planning stories are not yet organised for ease of children’s reflection. Teachers’ ongoing evaluation and the rationale behind the direction of the planning story are not yet a consistent part of their approach. Attention to these aspects is likely to improve learning outcomes for children.
  • The transition-to-school process is sound but could be further strengthened by having more resources available for children, updating the school information available for parents and considering the links between the New Zealand Curriculum and the kindergarten programme and approach.
  • Team members are fully involved in self-review activities. However, they have identified that they do not have a shared understanding about the processes involved and the role of self review in continuous improvement.

The Quality of Governance and Management

Background

The Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association is the umbrella organisation responsible for 16 kindergartens and two early childhood centres in the wider Nelson Bays district. It has a strong reporting history with ERO. A governing board is responsible for setting the overall strategic and policy direction. A management team comprising the chief executive officer (CEO), senior advisory teachers (SATs) and operations manager (OM) have delegated responsibilities in supporting teaching teams with compliance, property, resourcing and learning programmes for children. Board members and the CEO regularly meet with parent representatives from the kindergartens and centres at a forum to share ideas and information between families, the association and board.

The association continues to be involved in other initiatives to support children, families and teachers. In 2009, key personnel have been part of an Induction and Mentoring Pilot Project for registering teachers through the Teachers’ Council. The Strategies with Kids, Information for Parents (SKIP) programme is delivered through a contract with the Ministry of Social Development. The association also has management and support contracts with several other kindergartens and centres in the region.

Areas of good performance

  • The board and management team are improvement focused and committed to the provision of high quality early childhood education. Governance and management roles are clearly defined and well understood. Effective, professional support is offered to the kindergartens, teachers and communities in a wide variety of ways. Staff feel valued, trusted and part of a forward thinking and innovative organisation.
  • Positive professional relationships exist between management and the teaching teams. The CEO and SATs regularly visit kindergartens and provide sound feedback and feedforward about the quality of education, property and accountability matters. Additional targeted support is provided as identified and emergent leadership fostered. Written reports are generally constructive. They focus on improving teaching and learning practice and strengthening team and community relationships.
  • Significant progress has been made in increasing bicultural understandings and practices across the organisation. Key factors have been the setting of an association-wide goal and the appointment of a kaimahi Māori. These strategies have enabled the association to meet legislative obligations, realise its own vision, and build relationships with local iwi. Teachers’ understandings and capability in enhancing bicultural programmes has also increased. A deeper understanding of te ao Māori for teachers, children and parents is evident.
  • Quality assurance systems are highly effective. There are clear expectations that teachers will use and adhere to the well developed guidelines for managing compliance matters. The appraisal process provides opportunities for all teachers to identify personal and professional goals to improve their practice. The process also informs association professional development needs. Increased staffing at association level has ensured that standards are improved and maintained.
  • Self review is a deliberate process that is embedded in culture and practices at governance and management levels. A wide range of data is well used to inform strategic direction for continuous improvement and accountability. Policies are regularly reviewed and give clear guidance to the various stakeholders.
  • Considerable thought and resourcing is given to, and invested in, providing high quality teaching and learning environments. Many buildings, facilities and play spaces have been upgraded over the last three years to incorporate interesting and varied outdoor learning spaces, enhanced workspace for staff and rooms for whänau.

Area for improvement

  • The consistency and usefulness of constructive feedback from SATs and between teaching team members is variable across the association. In addition, SAT reports often do not differentiate between high performing teams and those requiring more development. Strengthening these aspects is likely to add to the robustness of the feedback and further enhance teaching practices.

3. Area of National Interest

Overview

ERO provides information about the education system as a whole through its national reports. This information will be used as the basis for long term and systemic educational improvement.

Literacy Teaching and Learning

When children understand, enjoy, engage with, and use language and symbols they are better able to express their individual identity and become active participants in a literate society. As part of this review ERO looked at literacy practices, particularly the opportunities provided for children to develop strong literacy learning foundations.

In this service, children’s literacy learning opportunities include:

  • using ICT for letter recognition and research;
  • making kindergarten books;
  • listening to “story grans”, people from the wider community, who come into the kindergarten to read to the children;
  • providing a wide range of books which are easily accessible for children;
  • sharing story reading and discussion;
  • having high levels of conversation between teachers and children;
  • using sign language;
  • incorporating socio-dramatic play;
  • writing in play situations, for example, writing in the sandpit;
  • providing meaningful opportunities to write, for example, children signing into the kindergarten, filling out appointment books, making their own books;
  • offering a range of tools, models and prompts to promote investigation of writing;
  • having fun with words through rhymes, music and games;
  • accessing a listening post;
  • placing photographs in profiles and other kindergarten books, visual literacy; and
  • recording and sharing the adventures of “Tidy Teddy” who is sent to homes.

4. Management Assurance on Compliance Areas

Overview

Before the review, the licensee and staff of Nelson South Kindergarten completed an ERO Centre Management Assurance Statement and Self-Audit Checklist. In these documents they have attested that they had taken all reasonable steps to meet their legislative obligations related to:

  • administration;
  • health, safety and welfare;
  • personnel management;
  • financial and property management.

During the review, ERO checked the following items because they have a potentially high impact on outcomes for children:

  • emotional safety (including behaviour management, prevention of bullying and abuse);
  • physical safety (including behaviour management, sleeping and supervision practices; accidents and medication; hygiene and routines; travel and excursion policies and procedures);
  • staff qualifications and organisation; and
  • evacuation procedures and practices for fire and earthquake.

ERO’s investigations did not identify any areas of concern.

In order to improve current practice, the management should:

  • restrain the folders on the shelves in the office; and
  • ensure all required details are filled in on displayed allergy lists to correctly inform staff practice.

5. Recommendation

ERO, kindergarten management and teachers agreed that teachers will:

  1. continue to develop and refine their approach to assessment, planning, evaluation and self review, particularly in relation to addressing the areas for improvement identified in this report.

6. Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interests of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

Kathleen Atkins

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

10 March 2010

About the Centre

Location

Nelson

Ministry of Education profile number

5403

Type

Free Kindergarten

Number licensed for

45 children aged over 2

Roll number

74

Gender composition

Boys 42

Girls 32

Ethnic composition

New Zealand European/Pākehā 45

Māori 10

Pacific 4

Other ethnic groups 15

Review team on site

November 2009

Date of this report

10 March 2010

Previous ERO reports

Education Review November 2006

Education Review February 2004

Accountability Review March 1998

Review April 1991

To the Parents and Community of Nelson South Kindergarten

These are the findings of the Education Review Office’s latest report onNelson South Kindergarten.

Nelson South Kindergarten operates under the constitution and philosophy of Nelson District Free Kindergarten Association. A governing board is responsible for setting the overall strategic and policy direction. The organisation is managed by the chief executive officer (CEO) and a team comprising three senior advisory teachers (SATs) and an operations manager (OM). The CEO is licensee and responsible for compliance, property and resourcing. The OM assists teachers with employment, human resources and marketing. The SATs provide professional advice and guidance to teachers and support them in the development and implementation of learning programmes for children.

The November 2006 ERO report noted the high standard of core activities provided. The learning environment was welcoming and inclusive and the kindergarten had developed a real sense of community. Teachers were friendly and had a warm rapport with children and their families. Support for literacy was a strength of the programme which was structured around children’s emerging ideas and interests. Recommendations were identified in relation to strengthening assessment practices.

Since the previous ERO review, there have been significant changes to the service. All permanent teachers are new with only the head teacher remaining from that time. Teaching staff numbers have increased from three to six. A range of professional development has been undertaken to support teaching and learning. A sense of unity and collaboration has developed amongst members of this relatively new team. Together, teachers effectively manage day-to-day operations and the development of the programme.

An inclusive culture continues to be a strong feature of this kindergarten. High value is placed on developing and maintaining relationships with families. Everyone is acknowledged and made to feel welcome. Teachers are warm, respectful, and responsive. They emphasise the importance of children’s social and emotional wellbeing.

Teachers demonstrate a strong commitment to implementing a bicultural programme and this is clearly reflected daily in the environment and aspects of teaching.

The programme evolves from children’s interests as they explore their surroundings. A wide range of experiences effectively support children’s early literacy and mathematical learning. The focus on sustainability and gardening is providing high quality opportunities for learning. Information and communication technologies (ICT) successfully enhance some aspects of teaching and learning. Sound processes are in place to assist children and their families in making the transition to primary school. Children have easily accessed materials and equipment to support a wide range of play.

ERO, kindergarten management and teachers have agreed on areas of practice to improve. These developments include to review the organisation of some aspects of the environment and to further refine approaches to transition to school and to assessment, planning, evaluation and self review.

Future Action

ERO is confident that the service is being managed in the interests of the children. Therefore ERO is likely to review the service again as part of the regular review cycle.

When ERO has reviewed an early childhood centre we encourage management to inform their community of any follow up action they plan to take. You should talk to the management or licensee if you have any questions about this evaluation, the full ERO report or their future intentions.

If you would like a copy of the full report, please contact the centre or see the ERO website, http://www.ero.govt.nz.

 Kathleen Atkins

National Manager Review Services

Central Region

GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT REVIEWS

About ERO

ERO is an independent, external evaluation agency that undertakes reviews of schools and early childhood services throughout New Zealand.

About ERO Reviews

ERO follows a set of standard procedures to conduct reviews. The purpose of each review is to:

  • improve quality of education for children in early childhood centres; and
  • provide information to parents, communities and the Government.

Reviews are intended to focus on outcomes for children and build on each centre’s self review.

Review Focus

ERO’s framework for reviewing and reporting is based on four review strands.

  • Quality of Education – including the quality of the programme provided for children, the quality of the learning environment and the quality of the interactions between staff and children and how these impact on outcomes for children.
  • Additional Review Priorities – other aspects of the operation of a centre, may be included in the review. ERO will not include this strand in all reviews.
  • Areas of National Interest – information about how Government policies are working in early childhood centres.
  • Compliance with Legal Requirements – assurance that this centre has taken all reasonable steps to meet legal requirements.

Review Coverage

ERO reviews do not cover every aspect of centre performance and each ERO report may cover different issues. The aim is to provide information on aspects that are central to positive outcomes for children and useful to this centre.

Review Recommendations

Most ERO reports include recommendations for improvement. A recommendation on a particular issue does not necessarily mean that a centre is performing poorly in relation to that issue. There is no direct link between the number of recommendations in this report and the overall performance of this centre.